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Calling elves and zombies: Holiday hiring is underway

Even before Labor Day I spotted glitzy Halloween socks in Rite-Aid and Christmas trees in a craft stores, meaning it’s none too soon to gauge the holiday hiring outlook.

Stores looking for holiday staffers

No. These Santas aren't heading to the mall. They're on a fun run. Photo: Flickr user Clarity

This used to be a story that could wait until the leaves started to change color, but not any more.

Retail generally is the first industry that spring to mind when it comes to holiday jobs. As Fox 6 Milwaukee reported, that area’s merchants held a job fair in August to fill seasonal positions.  Macy’s has online ads out for “retail merchandise placement” and “truck processing and handling” associates; interestingly, its ads ask people to apply for an invitation to a job fair; does this pre-screening mean they expect to be inundated with candidates?

Ask independent shops what they anticipate in terms of hiring, wages and how long the jobs will last.  Check with chains; Party City already has issued a media release about Halloween hiring and Halloween City, based in my neck of the woods, says it expects to hire 12,000 people to staff its temporary stores.

Check with malls as well as individual stores and chains; here’s an announcement of a Sept. 29 job fair at a Simon Malls property in New Hampshire.

To the extent employers will divulge, readers will want to know about wages, benefits if any and perks like discounts available to holiday staff.  Also, in light of the ongoing unemployment crisis (new national jobless figures are due out Sept. 7) find out if any of last year’s seasonal jobs turned into full-time berths, and what the outlook for that is this year.

Going beyond stores, check with other sectors like shipping, dining, sports facilities, concert venues, casinos, resorts and attractions — here’s a story about Gaylord Opryland in Nashville hiring 400 seasonal workers from beverage servers to tour buss greeters in anticipation of its A Country Christmas holiday event.  And in a bulletin board search I found a famous local deli advertising for extra bread bakers to work through December.

You can find out what jobs are opening up in your market using SnagAJob.com, the hourly jobs specialist; the company already has a holiday jobs portal up and it’s searchable by state.  Another good resource is SimplyHired.com; I had better luck in its search engine with the term “seasonal” than “holiday;”  in addition to retail a number of health care, driver and logistics jobs popped up. Monster.com and CareerBuilder.com are helpful too.  Follow them all on Twitter and don’t forget about temporary staffing services; some employers may go through them rather than making direct hires.

Another resource for commentary and an overview on the holiday hiring scene could be those third-party companies that screen applicants on behalf of employers.  Google “job applicant screening” and your geographic area; you’ll find software makers and other third parties such as HireRight which offer resume screening, background checks and other services.  Some can even determine which prospective workers might qualify employers for tax credits, such as those for hiring unemployed workers.

While efficient, you might also explore the pros and cons of electronic resume screening.  Talk with your state’s workforce commission and worker advocates — do these impersonal methods place some prospective employees at a disadvantage?  What can one do to maximize the chance of one’s resume making it through the computerized screening process?

One last take on the season employment angle:  Check into what’s afoot in your state regarding unemployment benefits for seasonal workers.  According to this CNN Money article, some are eliminating benefits for people whose jobs predictably go away on a cyclical basis.


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